Saturday Night Owls: Today even the FBI loves Martin Luther King Jr. It sure didn’t in the ’60s

Saturday Night Owls: Today even the FBI loves Martin Luther King Jr. It sure didn’t in the ’60s

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.


Joe Berkowitz at Fast Company writes—The damning ‘MLK/FBI’ doc shows how poorly Martin Luther King Jr. was treated in his time. Informed by newly declassified documents, ‘MLK/FBI’ is a warning to those who oppose Black Lives Matter about how they’ll be viewed in future history.

The gorgeous reflection garden at the FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, is graced by a Martin Luther King Jr. quote etched in stone: “The time is always right to do what’s right.”

While it’s nice that the FBI feels so inspired by King now, 50 years after his death, that certainly was not the case when he was alive. In fact, not long after the late civil rights leader made his most famous speech, at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, a memo circulating around the FBI called him “the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation,” and urged the bureau to “use every resource at our disposal to destroy him.”

It’s one of many details in the illuminating new documentary, MLK/FBI, that should be a wake-up call about what white America thought of King in his time—as well as what white America thinks of social uprisings taking place today.

Although the full extent of the FBI’s vast surveillance records won’t be released until February 2027 at the earliest, MLK/FBI draws on newly declassified documents to reveal how bureau architect J. Edgar Hoover tried to use its findings to erode support for King. (In an interview, former FBI head James Comey calls this period “the darkest part of the bureau’s history.”)

The film—which [came] out on Friday, January 15, on what would have been King’s 92nd birthday and just ahead of MLK Day—walks viewers through the uneasy relationship between King and the FBI. During the mid-to-late 1950s, when King first showed up on the agency’s radar, the FBI was apparently not very interested in him. Its agents began to pay more attention by 1962, however, when King became closer with lawyer, accountant, and “unsung hero of the civil rights movement” Stanley Levison, who had previously exhibited Communist sympathies—an uncrossable red line at the time. This relationship convinced the FBI to ramp up its surveillance efforts, and led to the only major dirt it ever dug up on King that is widely known today: his serial adultery. […]




Close #Guantanamo: Lawyers Decry Broken Military Commission System and Status of “Forever Prisoners” in Washington Post Op-Ed

— Andy Worthington (@GuantanamoAndy) January 16, 2021


“I believe in aristocracy, though—if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke.”
           ~~E.M. ForsterTwo Cheers for Democracy (1936-1951)


On this date at Daily Kos in 2009As of This Minute, The Bush Administration Has Effectively Ended:

It’s 5:00 PM in the Eastern time zone, which includes Washington DC.  5:00 PM is the standard end of the workday.  It’s Friday, the end of the week.  Monday is a federal holiday, so the mass of federal employees will not be working.  On Tuesday President-elect Barack Obama will become President Barack Obama, our nation’s 44th president.  

Some White House staff will be kept on for the next few days.  Certainly in the defense, foreign policy and domestic security areas there are Bush appointees who will–and should–remain on call or at their desks between now and Tuesday.  The could still be some late-night activities happening with some of the legal staff.  But in terms of devising, implementing and enforcing policies, as of this moment, the Bush administration is effectively over.  

It was exhausting, it was most of the time maddening, infuriating and often embarrassing and even shameful for our government to be led by George W. Bush and his administration.  But we have endured.  The country is damaged, but not destroyed.  President Obama and the Democratic people, the massive and professional civil service, and especially the American people have a great deal of work and struggle before us to restore our country’s honor, prestige, respect, security, prosperity and opportunity.  

We’re all up to that challenge.  But before we embark on that, let’s let out a sigh of relief, and if you’re inclined, now or later tonight, raise your glass and toast to the effective end of the administration and presidency of George W. Bush. 

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for “Netroots Radio.”

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